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Refusal expected for farmers’ market on site of deer farm near Tenby

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A RESUBMITTED application to create an indoor farmers’ market/traders barn on the site of a deer farm attraction near Tenby is expected to again be refused by county planners.

Mr and Mrs Evans of Great Wedlock, Gumfreston, are seeking a change of use of a former agricultural barn to the trading barn for up to 35 traders selling local produce and crafts, operating up to 61 days a year.

The plans – which will be considered at the October 3 meeting of the county council’s planning committee – also include an additional 30 parking bays on the site of a former silage clamp.

The site, opposite the Great Wedlock Leisure Park dinosaur park, already has planning permission for the change of use of a range of former agricultural barns to create a recently opened deer park attraction with educational and events use.

A previous application for the trading barn was refused by county planners on the basis it would represent an “unjustified use in a countryside location and contains insufficient information in respect of sustainable travel options”.

Another point of concern at that meeting was the lack of a detailed Retail Impact Assessment (RIA), Agent Atriarc Planning has said, which has been incorporated in the resubmitted application.

The resubmitted application says: “The RIA has identified that the proposed development would have no negative impact on the local retail provision and that the proposal would satisfy the RIA tests set out in various National and Local Planning policies.

“The proposed change of use seeks to create a new destination for independent traders, to sell local produce and crafts within the proposed farmers market/ market traders’ barn. The proposal is particularly focussed to local start-up companies (and those in their early infancy) who may not yet be at a scale to occupy a permanent retail premises within Pembrokeshire.

“The stall spaces will provide a range of unit sizes that could be occupied as individual or multiple units. The key driver of the project is to provide a market barn for the sale of high-quality local produce and bespoke goods made in west Wales.”

It is hoped the trading stalls in one part of the barn – if approved – would be open to the public February to December – one day per week Saturday or Sunday outside of school holidays and up to two days per week during the school holidays, from 10am-4pm.

A report for members ahead of the October 3 meeting again recommends refusal, on the basis the application, in a countryside location, would have the potential to have negative impacts upon the existing provision of local shops in nearby rural settlements.

Business

The Amber Boutique: Gemma triumphs as Apprentice of the Year

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IN a testament to hard work and dedication, Gemma Phillips, co-owner of The Amber Boutique, has been named Apprentice of the Year at the prestigious B-wbl Consortium Annual Apprenticeship and JGW+ Learner Awards. The event took place on 7th June at the Tower Hotel in Swansea, celebrating the outstanding achievements of apprentices and learners within the B-wbl Consortium Provider Network.

Gemma Phillips began her journey at The Amber Boutique in November 2020, embarking on an apprenticeship that saw her complete both NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 in Nail Services by 2023. Demonstrating remarkable commitment and skill, Phillips not only excelled in her training but also took the bold step of taking over the salon in April 2024, alongside her colleague Rebecca Lloyd. Under their stewardship, The Amber Boutique has thrived, becoming a beacon of success in the local business community.

The awards ceremony highlighted the dedication and high-level skills of learners in the Apprenticeship and Jobs Growth Wales+ programmes. Phillips was nominated by HB Training for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category, an honour that recognised her significant accomplishments since the inception of her apprenticeship. Among hundreds of nominees, Phillips stood out, making it to the top three before ultimately being declared the winner.

Her assessor at HB Training praised her indomitable spirit and perseverance. “Gemma was nominated for the Apprentice of the Year award due to her hard work and dedication to learning. She did not let her disability stand in her way and, with support from HB Training and adapted training provision, Gemma successfully achieved her Level 2 and 3 Nail Services qualifications. As a result, she now owns her own salon business. Gemma is a real-life hero and a true inspiration to others, demonstrating that a disability does not need to be a barrier to achieving your goals.”

The B-wbl Consortium awards, held annually, celebrate the success and achievements of their outstanding learners. Providers within the consortium nominate their top candidates for each award category, with a panel of independent judges selecting the finalists from the numerous applications received. Phillips’ victory is a testament to her relentless pursuit of excellence and her ability to overcome challenges.

The Amber Boutique continues to flourish under Phillips and Lloyd’s leadership, embodying the spirit of resilience and entrepreneurial success. Gemma Phillips’ story serves as an inspiration, proving that with determination and support, extraordinary achievements are possible.

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Business

Great news for village chippie after local couple become “sole” traders

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A CEREDIGION couple who were frustrated when their local chippie was closed over a Bank Holiday weekend found the perfect answer – they took over the business.

Aled and Nia Roberts jumped into action when the chip shop in Llanon, between Aberystwyth and Aberaeron, was put on the market just days later and they were able to lease the property.

Eighteen months later they have built up trade based on good, locally sourced food as well as their extensive promotion of the Welsh language and displaying local history and culture prominently in their front windows.

Customers have written glowing reviews of their visit to Sglods (Welsh for chips) on social media and online review websites.

Their fans include European rally champion and friend Chris Ingram who loves their fish and chips and volunteered to help them out one busy evening.

Now Aled and Nia have been shortlisted for an award at the Gwobrau Mwyaf Cymraeg yn y Byd (Most Welsh in the World Awards) organised as part of the Bwrlwm ARFOR scheme that’s run by Anglesey-based consultancy firm Lafan.

The aim of the competition is to celebrate all things Welsh in business across the four counties with the highest percentage of Welsh speakers, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Aberystwyth and the couple are thrilled to have been shortlisted in the category for the Most Welsh Brand.

Aled, 50, said: “We found out about being shortlisting when the online voting was launched. We’re delighted and very excited by it.

“Welsh is an important part of our business because Welsh is very much in use in this area. From the signs outside and the menu boards inside to our social media pages we make extensive use of the language and are proud to do so.”

Aled said the opportunity for him and Nia to take over the chip shop was rather unusual.

“It was August 2022 and we had been on holiday with our two children getting back on the Bank Holiday Saturday and we thought we’d get some chips from the chip shop which is opposite our house for supper.

“But it was closed and we tongue in cheek said that if the business was ever to become available we’d give it a try. .

“I thought no more of it but just days later a “Business Opportunity” sign went up. It was as if it was meant to be,” he said.

After their successful bid, the couple re-branded the business, re-named it as Sglods and applied a fresh coat of paint to the exterior.

“Neither of us had any experience in the catering industry and we were quite literally thrown in at the deep end.

“We looked very carefully at what we were offering and have made every effort to source what we sell locally or from Wales.

“Unfortunately we can’t obtain our fish from Wales, the cod comes from Iceland but the potatoes naturally come from Pembrokeshire. We have a very good supplier who also supplies their potatoes to many supermarkets.

“Our special pie of the week is popular and is supplied from a company based in Cross Hands near Llanelli, and our sausages are made in Welshpool” he said.

The couple are just as keen to promote the local area and with the shop having two large windows facing the busy A487 he decided to display artefacts and images explaining the history of the village and events in the surrounding area.

Aled added: “With the help of our close friend Sian, who is the creative one, we try to change the theme every month. When we had the ploughing competition in the village I found an old plough and some photos and put them in the window. At Easter we had a picture of a chicken and I’d hidden some Easter eggs around the village with vouchers for the shop in them.

“We have a picture of the month of local people, buildings or landscape which invariably starts a debate and a Welsh saying of the month.

“The displays have become popular and we have people coming just to see them and some organisations have asked if they can create a display to promote their work or forthcoming events.”

For many years Aled has run Ceir Ardwyn Cars, a motor dealership based in the village while Nia worked for Cyngor Sir Ceredigion Council.

He has a keen interest in motor sports and was a navigator in motor rallying for many years.

“A few weeks ago Chris Ingram and his father John who are friends of the family came to stay and do some testing ahead of a British Rally Championship round.

“Chris was the first British driver to become FIA European Rally Champion in over 50 years and raved about our fish and chips, he even helped us out one busy night and did a shift in the shop.

“We have photos of him working behind the counter on our social media,” he said.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage businesses to use Welsh to boost their bottom line – and put a smile on people’s faces at the same time.

It certainly seems to have succeeded with dozens of entries finally whittled down to 30 finalists in seven different categories.

A spokesperson for ARFOR said: “Our aim is to create a buzz around the use of Welsh in a business or commercial environment and how it can help businesses thrive and provide careers for our young people so they don’t feel they have to move away.

“We have received dozens of nominations from a variety of businesses across the four counties of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and those shortlisted for an award are those the judges feel are doing their utmost to use and promote the Welsh language on their premises, their marketing and their social media channels.

“We have 30 finalists and we are conducting a public vote on social media.

“We wish all of them the very best of luck at the forthcoming award ceremony and hope the other nominees continue their good work in using and promoting our language.”

The Bwrlwm ARFOR campaign is part of the ARFOR Two scheme that was launched in 2022 in succession to the 2019 ARFOR programme to continue to strengthen and promote the economic resilience of the Welsh language in the four counties.

ARFOR Two is intended to provide economic support to communities that are strongholds of the Welsh language, increase opportunities to see and use the Welsh language on a daily basis and help young people under the age of 35 to stay in or return to their communities.

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Business

James Evans MS calls for overhaul of ‘toxic’ Meat Promotion Wales

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A CONSERATIVE MS called for Hybu Cig Cymru to be made fully independent amid concerns about a “toxic bullying culture” within the meat promotion organisation.

James Evans, the shadow rural affairs secretary, warned the farming industry is losing faith in Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), Wales’ meat marketing board.

He said HCC’s chief executive has stood down, two senior executives are leaving and board members are on the verge of resigning.

Mr Evans said: “There have been no board minutes published since 2022, and no up-to-date financial statements or annual reports on their website since 2021.

“This is a very concerning position for HCC to find itself in. The body underpins an industry that’s been valued at more than £1b to Wales.“

The Brecon and Radnorshire MS said a toxic culture of bullying and governance issues within the Welsh Government-owned company are undermining farmers’ confidence.

He said: “A lot of people in the industry, as well, are very concerned about whether the board and the chairman of the board have got the power and the levers that they need to actually turn the organisation around.

“The industry is losing faith.”

During rural affairs questions on June 19, Mr Evans called for a fully independent meat marketing board, run by farmers and processors for farmers and processors.

He told the Senedd: “A lot of farmers I’m speaking to are telling me, ‘Take it away from the Welsh Government, give it back to the industry, give it to the processors, let them directly appoint people onto that board, and, if they don’t perform, they can take them away’.”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs secretary, warned that the situation is “going from bad to worse”, with two directors resigning this week.

The North Wales representative raised concerns about absence levels and staff turnover as he echoed calls for government intervention.

Pressing Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh Government’s rural affairs secretary, he warned of the risk of undermining the faith of HCC levy payers and the reputation of Welsh red meat.

He asked: “For how long will you say that this is someone else’s problem?”

Mr Irranca-Davies replied: “We have to leave it to Hybu Cig Cymru to actually work through these issues and do them properly and assiduously. That is HCCs role…

“It is not for me to step in and, in some ways, tell HCC what to do, or intervene in what are sensitive and delicate discussions with both current and former members.”

Mr Irranca-Davies said he has not heard a universal voice from farmers calling for HCC to be made independent of the Welsh Government.

The rural affairs secretary, who is also responsible for climate change, recognised concerns about governance, saying he has met the chair to seek assurances in the past few weeks.

He told the chamber: “In terms of their day-to-day business and their performance, they’re getting on with it. I’ve had those reassurances that performance is not affected….

“But clearly, I’m aware of the internal governance issues and I’m sure they’re focused on resolving them.”

Mr Irranca-Davies, a former MP and Defra minister under Gordon Brown’s UK Government, pointed out that Heather Anstey-Myers was appointed interim chief executive in January.

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